Violence against men

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Violence against men (VAM[citation needed]) consists of violent acts that are disproportionately or exclusively committed against men. Men are overrepresented as both victims[1][2] and perpetrators of violence.[3][4] Sexual violence against men is treated differently than that committed against women in most societies and is largely unrecognized by international law.[5][6][7][8]

Perceptions and aspects[edit]

Studies of social attitudes show violence is perceived as more or less serious depending on the gender of victim and perpetrator.[9][10] According to a study in the publication Aggressive Behavior, violence against women was about a third more likely to be reported by third parties to the police regardless of the gender of the attacker,[11] although the most likely to be reported gender combination was a male perpetrator and female victim.[11] The use of stereotypes by law enforcement is a recognised issue,[12] and international law scholar Solange Mouthaan argues that, in conflict scenarios, sexual violence against men has been ignored in favor of a focus on sexual violence against women and children.[13] One explanation for this difference in focus is the physical power that men hold over women, making people more likely to condemn violence with this gender configuration.[14] The concept of male survivors of violence goes against social perceptions of the male gender role, leading to low recognition and few legal provisions.[15] Often there is no legal framework for a woman to be prosecuted when committing violent offenses against a man.[16]

Richard Felson challenges the assumption that violence against women is different from violence against men. The same motives play a role in almost all violence, regardless of gender: to gain control or retribution and to promote or defend self-image.[17]

Writing for Time, Cathy Young criticised the feminist movement for not doing enough to challenge double standards in the treatment of male victims of physical abuse and sexual assault.[18]

Domestic violence[edit]

In 2013, editor-in-chief of the journal Partner Abuse, John Hamel,[19] set up the Domestic Violence Research Group to create the "Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project (PASK)".[20] PASK found parity in rates of both perpetration and victimisation for men and women.[21]

Men who are victims of domestic violence are at times reluctant to report it or to seek help. According to some commentators, there is also a paradigm that only males perpetrate domestic violence and are never victims.[22] Shamita Das Dasgupta and Erin Pizzey are among those who argue that, as with other forms of violence against men, intimate partner violence is generally less recognized in society when the victims are men.[23][24] Violence of women against men in relationships is often trivialized[3][25][26] due to women, on average, being physically weaker than men; in such cases, the use of dangerous objects and weapons is omitted.[3] Research since the 1990s has identified issues of perceived and actual bias when police are involved, with the male victim being negated even while injured.[27]

Female violence against men[edit]

According to the journalist Martin Daubney "...there remains a theory that men under report their experiences [of violence by women against men] due to a culture of masculine expectations."[28] The official figure in the United Kingdom, for example, is about 50% of the number of acts of violence by men against women, but there are indications that only about 10% of male victims of female violence report the incidents to the authorities, mainly due to taboos and fears of misunderstanding created by a culture of masculine expectations.[29] By comparison, 1.9 million people aged 16–59 told the Crime Survey for England and Wales (year ending March 2017), that they were victims of domestic violence and 79% did not report their partner or ex-partner. Of the 1.9 million, approximately 1.2 million were female and 713,000 were male.[30] A Canadian report found that men were 22% more likely to report being victims of spousal violence in their current relationship than women.[29][31] Researchers Stemple and Meyer report that sexual violence by women against men is often understudied or unrecognized.[32]

Family violence scholar Richard Gelles published an article entitled "Domestic Violence: Not An Even Playing Field" and accused men's rights groups of distorting research findings on men's and women's violence to promote a misogynistic agenda.[33] Some domestic violence scholars and advocates have rejected the research cited by men's rights activists and dispute their claims that such violence is gender symmetrical,[34][35][36] arguing that their focus on violence against men stems from a political agenda to minimize the severity of the problem of men's violence against women and children[34] and to undermine services to abused women.[36]

Forced circumcision[edit]

Non-therapeutic male circumcision is considered, by several groups, to be a form of violence against young men and boys.[37][38] The International Criminal Court considers forced circumcision to be an "inhumane act".[37] Some court decisions have found it to be a violation of a child's rights.[39] In certain countries, such as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Turkey and the United States, newborn baby males are routinely circumcised without the child's consent.[40][41] As well, the Jewish and Muslim faiths circumcise boys at a young age.[42] It is also practiced in Coptic Christianity and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.[41][43]

Although a 2012 court ruling in Germany put the practice of male cutting under question, calling circumcision "grievous bodily harm," the German parliament passed a law to keep circumcision of boys legal.[44] As of 2016, cutting of boys' foreskins is still legal worldwide.[40]

Mass killings[edit]

Serbian victims during insurgency in the Kosovo War

In situations of structural violence that include war and genocide, men and boys are frequently singled out and killed.[45] The murder of targets by sex during the Kosovo War, estimates of civilian male victims of mass killings suggest that they made up more than 90% of all civilian casualties.[45]

Non-combatant men and boys have been and continue to be the most frequent targets of mass killing and genocidal slaughter, as well as a host of lesser atrocities and abuses.[46] Gendercide Watch, an independent human rights group, documents multiple gendercides aimed at males (adult and children): The Anfal Campaign,[47] (Iraqi Kurdistan), 1988 – Armenian Genocide[48] (1915–17) – Rwanda, 1994.[49] Forced conscription can also be considered gender-based violence against men.[50]

Sexual violence[edit]


It was noted in 1990 that the English language is "bereft of terms and phrases which accurately describe male rape".[51] In 2012, a UNHCR report stated that "SGBV (sexual and gender based violence) against men and boys has generally been mentioned as a footnote in reports".[52]

According to the 2002 SAVI (Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland) Report, 9.7% of Irish men reported experiencing contact sexual assault as adults (when they were aged 17 or older); 0.9% of those involved penetrative sex. A further 2.7% reported unwanted non-contact sexual experiences. By comparison, 20.4% Irish women reported experiencing contact sexual assault as adults, 6.1% of which involved penetrative sex; a further 5.1% reported unwanted non-contact sexual experiences.[53]

According to the 2018 Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia report, the Australian police recorded 4,100 male victims of sexual violence in 2016, as opposed to 18,900 female victims that year (thus, male victims constituted 17.8% of all victims). For male victims experiencing sexual violence since the age of 15, 55% reported a female perpetrator while 51% reported a male perpetrator (some who experienced sexual violence multiple times were victimised by men and women); by comparison, 98% of female victims since age 15 reported a male perpetrator, while 4.2% reported a female perpetrator (also some overlap here).[54]

Wartime sexual violence[edit]

Wartime sexual violence committed by men against men is used as psychological warfare in order to demoralize the enemy.[55] The practice is ancient, and was recorded as taking place during the Crusades.[56] During periods of armed conflict men may be raped, sexually mutilated, sexually humiliated, or even enslaved.[57] Castration in particular is used as a means of physical torture with strong psychological effects, namely the loss of the ability to procreate and the loss of the status of a full man.[56] While sexual violence in all its forms is criminalized in international law, the culture of silence around sexual violence against men often leaves male victims with no support.[58]

In one study, less than 3% of organizations that address rape as a weapon of war, mention men or provide services to male victims.[6][8][59]

Military conscription and war[edit]


Homicide statistics according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics[60]
Male offender/Male victim 65.3%
Male offender/Female victim 22.7%
Female offender/Male victim 9.6%
Female offender/Female victim 2.4%

In the U.S., crime statistics from the 1976 onwards show that men make up the majority of the homicide perpetrators regardless if the victim is female or male. Men are also over-represented as victims in homicide involving both male and female offenders.[60] According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, women who kill men are most likely to kill acquaintances, spouses or boyfriends while men are more likely to kill strangers.[61] In many cases, women kill men due to being victims of intimate partner violence,[62] however this research was conducted on women on death row, a sample size of approximately 97 during the last 100 years.[63]

Police killings[edit]

In the United States, police killings are one of the leading causes of death for young men.[64] A study by Esposito, Lee, Edwards predicts that 1 in 2,000 men and 1 in 33,000 women die as a result of police use of deadly force.[64] The same study predicts the risk is highest for black men, as approximately 1 in 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police.[64] Studies using recent data have found that Black, Hispanic, and Native American/Alaskan individuals are disproportionately stopped by police and killed in encounters.[65][66][67][68][69]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "What is gendercide?". Gendercide Watch. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
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  4. ^ Woolf, N. Quentin (9 April 2014). "Our attitude to violence against men is out of date". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  5. ^ Lewis, Dustin (2009). "Unrecognized victims: sexual violence against men in conflict settings under international law". Wisconsin International Law Journal. University of Wisconsin Law School. 27 (1): 1–49. SSRN 1404574.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) Pdf.
  6. ^ a b DelZotto, Augusta; Jones, Adam (March 2002). Male-on-male sexual violence in wartime: human rights' last taboo?. Paper presented to the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA). New Orleans, LA. pp. 23–27. Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  7. ^ United Nations Population Fund (2002). Impact of armed conflict on women and girls. p. 64.
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    Citing both:
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    • 2) " are more likely to suffer spousal violence, with 342,000 women and 418,000 men suffering abuse in the preceding five years to 2014."
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  38. ^ Other groups:
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